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Jerome Bettis pleased with renewed focus on running game

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Fresh off his long overdue Hall of Fame induction, Jerome Bettis spoke of the return of the running back.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The failure of the Seattle Seahawks to attempt a goal to go touchdown rush with the Super Bowl on the line, in addition to evoking emotions referring to the gaffe as the worst play in Super Bowl history, has also given rise to the philosophical quandary regarding the current state of NFL offenses.  Namely, statistics and play calling over the last several seasons seem to be in favor of a passing offense.  Perhaps the Seahawks, even with arguably the best pure runner in football in their backfield in Marshawn Lynch, preferred to win the game through the air.

Jerome Bettis, however, dismisses this notion of "the decline of the NFL running back".  This is in contrast to arguments made by everyone from the casual fan to the hardcore fantasy owner,  as it seems consensus knowledge dictates a descending trend of running back usage.  But, with Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray being awarded the AP Offensive Player of the Year award, Bettis is hopeful for the outlook of running backs, according to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"A running back, how about that?" Bettis said, flashing his trademark grin. "Maybe there's still a place in the game for guys like us."

In addition to Murray, Lynch had another great season, completing his fourth straight year with 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns and Pittsburgh's own Le'Veon Bell has transformed into one of the best running backs in the NFL, finishing second to Murray in both carries and rushing yards and setting a Steelers franchise record for all-purpose yards with 2,215.  The continuing greatness of other premier backs like Jamaal Charles, Lesean McCoy and Matt Forte and the emergence of young runners like Jeremy Hill and Eddie Lacy are beginning to point the proverbial arrow back towards a top-end running back being a focal point of NFL offenses.

Admittedly, Eric Dickerson's single season rushing record of 2,105 yards and LaDainian Tomlinson's 28 rushing touchdowns in one season seem relatively safe for the time being, but the years of the declining running back appear to be taking a 180 degree turn, as several talented players look to restore respect to the running back position.